Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fmr. Eagle Mountain Mayor Tells "The Rest of the Story"

Olsen said he did not want to resign on Oct. 20, 2006, nor had he planned to.

The city offices were closed on that day, and Olsen had just returned home from picking up his children from school. State Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Eagle Mountain; Councilman David Lifferth; Olsen's chief of staff/public works director Mike Wren; and Chris Kemp, a developer, were waiting for him at his house.

"As soon as I stepped out of the vehicle there were three of them standing right behind me," Olsen said. "They wanted to come in the house. I said my wife was on bed rest, and they said, 'You have to come with us now' and they were serious and firm and you could tell they would not take no for an answer." Olsen's wife was in the last days of a fragile pregnancy.

The men then drove Olsen to Eagle Mountain Properties, to the office of John Walden, the developer who founded Eagle Mountain. "That is when they demanded that I resign," Olsen said.

Lifferth handed Olsen a pre-made resignation letter, written as though Olsen had written it, and told Olsen to sign it for the good of the city, Olsen said.

"They put the resignation letter in front of me and said, 'We know you are going to be criminally charged,' " Olsen said. "They said they were no longer going to support me." Olsen noted he had always counted the men as "friends and political supporters."

Wren then accused Olsen of stealing "thousands upon thousands of dollars," Olsen said. Wren could not be reached for comment.

"I said, 'Guys, there has to be a misunderstanding, I did not steal,' " Olsen said.

He said Lifferth then told him about a former mayor having to wear a bullet-proof vest after leaving office and that CNN would be parked in Olsen's driveway, "and said if I did not leave immediately my wife and kids would not be safe."

In an interview with the Herald, Lifferth confirmed the conversation, saying he had been genuinely concerned about the security of Olsen and his family.

Lifferth said he and the others confronted Olsen with a resignation letter because "we were all concerned about what was going to happen to the city when a sitting mayor was exposed for reimbursement fraud."

Olsen said he made a decision on the spot to sign the resignation letter, and then went home and told his wife what he had done.

"You can imagine the disbelief," he said of telling his wife. "We felt betrayed because of who had made the demand."

Olsen took his family and fled the city that night, afraid of Lifferth's warning.

In retrospect, Olsen said he regrets that decision because his sudden resignation and disappearance left a public impression of guilt.

"I understand how people saw it," he said.

With his wife very near her due date, Olsen rented a home in Sanpete County to be near the doctor who had delivered the couple's first four children. Olsen said he naively thought the political storm could be quickly resolved.

"I never believed this would take two years," he said. -Daily Herald, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008

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